He took off his turban at the age of 17. He wrote a novel in which he criticizes the conservative culture in which he grew up. He started receiving death threats after his novel “I will live” was published. While their lives were discussed on television programs, Lale Gül, who was rejected by her family, who still lives under the same roof, was placed in a hotel for her life safety.
Lale was able to show the courage to reject the life her family forced her to live and to talk about what she went through. Oğuz Ö, who is still alive thanks to the Dutch legal and security system, and threatens him saying “I will barbarously cut your head in the name of Allah”. in prison.
Tulip is lucky to be alive and protected. Unfortunately, his peers in Turkey are not as lucky as he is. In order to understand what girls born and raised in conservative families in Turkey are forced into, we must not read Lale’s story and put it aside. We need to look at Lale’s story in order to understand that the turban, which is said to be “whoever wants to wear it, does not want to”, is not something that is not worn when one does not want to, and not to reduce it to the freedom of the wearer.
Lale Gül’s book “I Will Live” was published in the Netherlands in February 2021.
“Freedom to wear a headscarf” has been talked about for the last fifteen years. His entry into the public sphere is considered a political victory by his supporters, while some secularists prefer the term democratic gain. It is impossible not to be surprised when listening to these discussions. Because among the speakers, there are those who know that it is clearly wrong to evaluate the issue from a one-sided perspective due to their academic upbringing, and they insist on fitting the headscarf within the framework of “freedom to wear”.
However, in order to stop accepting the turban as a given and understand how he got to where he stands, it is necessary to go back further and talk about when, where, how and under what conditions the woman wore the turban. By choosing clear words, without worrying about going against the headscarf supporters, without slurring the talk.
The truth we have to agree on is this: Her family wears the headscarf on the girl’s head. If the family is conservative, they make their daughter wear a turban, if not, they don’t. The girl wears the turban at home, at the age of thirteen, without choice. He brings his mother or an older woman in the house and extends the turban. Even if the girl does not volunteer, she takes it because she knows what will happen to her in case of objection. It would be naive to say that all thirteen-year-old girls say, “Long live, I’m grown up now, I’m wearing a turban too” and put a turban on their heads in joy. In other words, just as it is not true that those who want to wear the turban, it is also not true that those who do not want to wear it.
Can we imagine a scene like this happening? The mother or someone from the house hands the young girl a headscarf and says: “Daughter, we think it is right for you to cover up, but of course, the final decision is yours”. “Thanks, but I’m not considering covering up right now.”
The freedom to wear a turban has been talked about for fifteen years. No one talks about the freedom to take off the headscarf. Why is that? How many women in Turkey today can say “I have decided to open up” and remove the veil from their heads? How do her husband, father, household and family respond to this decision? “The head is his, the cover is his. Do they say whether you put it on or take it off? Do they just say “Okay dear”, “Okay dear”, “As you wish” and just go on living?
There is no research on how women close and open in Turkey. But there are many women who have to wear turbans against their will. They tell their stories to each other in low voices, not by writing a book like Lale, who lives in Amsterdam. These stories are told among friends, among women.
Let me tell you about someone from Kocaeli. Let her name be Ayşe. On the day of her period, she wears the headscarf that her mother brought to her head. In tears. He can’t object because he knows he will be beaten. Afterwards, he can’t take off his turban in Istanbul, where he came to study at the university, in case anyone sees it will inform his family. He finds a solution where he won’t be plugged in but is comfortable with. He’s wearing a hat. He buys colorful hats that those who see him can never call turban. But its obligation is not limited to this. There is always a prayer rug at the head end of the house, which he never lays on and sits on. If his father suddenly comes, he will think that he is praying. And this young girl commits suicide one day at her home in Istanbul. His family says, “Actually, he has no problems, they are on good terms.” An uncovered cousin and close friends remind each other that he is very unhappy because of covering his head, pretending to pray, and pretending to have strong religious beliefs.
Suicide too much? Well, let me continue. No statistics. These are stories that are told in daily life and fly away. But this has a printed book: “How did they get covered?” In Tuluhan Tekelioğlu’s book, there is the story of Emine Erdoğan’s covering. “I thought about committing suicide,” he says in an interview where he unintentionally covered himself. His words, which he later said were misunderstood, are so clear in the interview that there is no room for any other interpretation. Today, this book may be found in second-hand booksellers.
While we are talking about what it means to leave the Istanbul Convention, we should also bring to the table the freedom of choice for girls who grow up in conservative families. Without talking about where, how, when and under what conditions a woman wears the turban, we cannot see the turban as an innocent accessory carried by those who want it and not by those who do not. We can’t let it be seen like this, we shouldn’t.
Let there be no untold, unpublished coercion story: